Monday, May 16, 2011
Sefira - Climbing Higher
To continue on where I left off on last post, I wanted to get practical. I felt like the last post was inspirational and can leave the reader feeling like they want to do something to use each day for growth but then the feeling may creep in: Now what?!
How do you get to a level where by the time Shavuos comes around, you can look back and say Wow! I really changed! I used each day to grow and come closer to Hashem!
Let's get real. I know that in the past I haven't been able to look back after 49 days and say that I've really grown.
Change is difficult.
It takes work.
Here's something I heard from my very special married sister that I wanted to share with you because it can make all the difference.
You need to choose something small.
And that is SO true. That's how you can change over the 49 days of sefira.
In Judaism, growth can only be made if you take baby steps.
Little, small, teeny baby steps.
Proof: Sefira is forty nine whole days. That's quite a long time if you think about it! It's not like you are expected to change in a weeks time. No. It's gradual. You have more than a month to change, to prepare for the big day!
Now we are already more than halfway through sefira but I still think it's worth sharing these ideas so that if you haven't started yet, you can still utilize the time that's left to take something little and start making a change.
That's what I said. Something little.
It's up to you to decide where you want to begin.
Here are some ideas:
You want to become a more giving person? You want to work on chessed? Do one small thing every day to help someone else. It can be an anonymous act of kindness (like closing an opened safety pin so it wont prick someone else - I heard this idea at a speech a while back and it really left an impression on me!) or it can be something else - calling someone to let them know you're thinking of them. Whatever it is, make sure it's something small that can be done every day.
You think your kibbud av va'eim could use a little polishing? That's a hard mitzvah. But if once a day you make sure you had a positive thought about your parents, your mother or your father, you are already on your way up that spiritual ladder. One "thank you" to your parent, one extra chore to help out, one less complaint - and you're getting there.
Are you too connected to technology? Do you want to connect to Hashem but find yourself whipping out your phone/laptop/iPad too often to check your text messages or emails? Once a day, just one time during the day, hold yourself back. Instead, direct your thoughts upward and think a spiritual thought.
Do you want to work on your appreciation to Hashem for all the things He does for you but find yourself complaining about the things going wrong too often? Again, make it a once a day thing - think of something you are thankful for because in reality, Hashem gives you so, so much! Your eyes, your ears, your taste buds, your friends, your family, a healthy body, a digestive system, flowers, sunrise, music, the ability to understand, a job, a home...and the list goes on and on. So take a moment once a day to thank Hashem for ONE THING and then when Shavuos comes, you can look back and say, I've grown in my appreciation to Hashem during this sefira period.
Does your bein adam l'chaveiro need a little tune-up? There are so many ways to improve but just take one little step every day - give someone a sincere compliment. Hold in that urge to answer back for an extra second. Smile at someone when you pass them by in the hallway. Hold the door open for someone walking in behind you. Stop yourself before you respond to someone's gossip. These are hard things but if you take a small step, you can get there at the end of the 49th day.
Can your tefillah use a little more concentration to make it better? Decide that you are going to look into your siddur during one tefillah each day. You can choose the same tefillah, the first one you daven when you open your siddur, or a different one every day. But make sure that at the end of each day you can look back and say that you looked inside once. Because that can really make a difference in the kavanna that you have. When you look inside, you see the words and automatically your brain thinks about what those words mean! It may take a quick second before you get distracted but if you push yourself to look inside again at that tefillah, you'll see a difference in how you are able to concentrate!
There are so many areas that a person can change. When you look at all the ideas thrown out to you here, it may seem overwhelming. But just choose one thing. And take small steps towards your goal. Your goal is that when Shavuos comes around, you will be able to look back at this time with pride knowing that you utilized each day.
But if you do too much, you can fall back and give up because it becomes too hard. Taking something little upon yourself makes it a goal that can be reached.